Rock Salt vs. Mineral Block: Which is Best for My Horse?

March 21, 2022

All horses need access to a quality mineral block or rock, but which is best for your horse? There are a lot of licks out there. So many, in fact, the array of options can be overwhelming. Should you choose a white salt or mineralized block? Is a mineral block with additional supplements a smart idea? Or should you ditch the block entirely and go with a natural rock salt?

Let's take a closer look at why horses need salt and minerals, and compare the health benefits and differences between horse blocks and salt rocks.

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Why Horses Need Salt and Minerals

Whether salt should be a staple in your horse's diet really isn't up for debate. As this University of Florida paper on horse vitamin-mineral supplements notes, "all horses, regardless of age or productivity level, need a supplemental source of salt."

Salt is critical for sustaining life, and since it's not produced by the body, it needs to be provided to horses in some form—like a salt lick. In addition to its important role providing a trigger for thirst, equine nutritionist Dr. Juliet Getty notes salt is also necessary for horses':

  • Proper muscle contraction
  • Healthy nerve impulses throughout the body and brain
  • Balanced blood pH and volume
  • Water balance and hydration
  • Production of stomach acid

Similar to salt, minerals also help horses maintain hydration, nerve conduction, muscle contraction—and nearly every other physiological function.  While horses consume minerals every day, the concentrations they receive from feed and forage often aren't enough. Thus, the University of Florida recommends choosing a complete mineral supplement with balanced ratios to avoid creating an excess of one mineral that may interfere with the absorption and utilization of another.

Which Salt Lick is Best for My Horse?

So we know every horse needs daily salt supplementation and many horses are also deficient in minerals. Now how do you choose an effective salt supplement with a spectrum of balanced minerals your horse will like? Let's compare the general options on your feed store shelf and help you decide which lick is right for your horse.

White Salt Block

Manufactured salt and mineral blocks are heat-pressed licks made for both cattle and horses. Simple white salt blocks contain sodium and chloride (salt) but no other beneficial minerals. (Not all salt is created equal! Learn more about how white salt versus natural mineral salt is made.)

In short, a white block is an economical way to meet your horse's daily need for salt, but doesn't provide any other beneficial minerals or electrolytes to improve health or trigger hydration. 

Advantages:

  • Provides salt (sodium chloride) to horses

Disadvantages:

  • Manufactured, processed, and heat-pressed 
  • No additional minerals or electrolytes for horses 
  • Dissolve more quickly in rain and snow

Mineral Block

Horse mineral blocks contain salt and some additional nutrients, like zinc, iron, copper, iodine, manganese, and cobalt. Some blocks also contain targeted vitamins, such as A, D, and E, or other ingredients to support health.

Choosing a mineral block over plain salt may seem like a step up. However, most manufactured blocks still don’t deliver the full spectrum of balanced minerals and electrolytes your horse needs. And many blocks contain things you don't want—like artificial flavors, sweeteners, grains, and fillers used to mask the bitter flavor of blocks.  The University of Florida also notes that poor palatability of mineral blocks may lead to insufficient intake of minerals, while exposure to sunlight and weather can render many of the vitamins inactive. 

If you do decide to go with a mineral block, check the ingredients closely to ensure it meets your expectations on ingredients and your horse's nutritional needs. Vitamins and/or minerals should come in a complete package of balanced ratios, including trace minerals, rather than offered a la carte. Also monitor the block to see how much is being used, as your horse may struggle to lick it due to palatability or, conversely, bite it off like candy if it's sweetened.

Advantages

  • Typically contains salt and around 7-10 other added minerals
  • May contain added vitamins or other health supplements

Disadvantages

  • Most contain a limited number of trace minerals and electrolytes
  • Poor palatability may affect horses' usage 
  • Many contain sweeteners to entice licking (or chewing)
  • Some contain unnecessary fillers, dyes, or grains
  • Dissolves more quickly in rain and snow

Natural Rock Salt

Mineralized salt rocks are created by nature. They’re mined deep in the earth and sold in their natural solid state, so hold up much better in wet weather than pressed blocks. Salt rocks are also naturally chelated, or attached, to organic nutrients found in ancient sea beds. Studies have shown chelated minerals are more bioavailable in animals than manufactured sources.

Redmond Rock and Pakistani-mined Himalayan rock are both unrefined, natural sea salt rocks. Both contain all five critical electrolytes horses need for hydration, plus dozens of other trace minerals naturally existing in the balanced ratios nature intended and horses need. And in taste tests, most horses also prefer the flavor of salt rocks over manufactured blocks. They also come with or without a rope, handy for tying to a fence post or in a stall.

horse rock salt vs. salt block

If natural, balanced minerals and versatility are important to you, then these mined sea salt rocks are both better options than a manufactured plain salt or mineral block. But is one better than the other? That depends on you and your horse's preference, but here's what sets Redmond Rock apart from Himalayan:

Advantages:

  • All-natural, solid, mined rock
  • 60+ chelated, naturally balanced trace minerals (see the Redmond Rock complete mineral analysis)
  • Contains all major electrolytes to trigger thirst and encourage hydration
  • No grains, sweeteners, artificial flavors, or dyes
  • Withstands wet weather better than pressed blocks
  • Most horses prefer the taste of Redmond Rock to manufactured blocks

Disadvantages:

  • No added vitamins or other horse supplements

Ditch your horse block and get Redmond Rock.

Horses Prefer Natural Redmond Rock Salt

Thousands of horse owners have ditched their horse block and switched to a natural Redmond Rock. Equitation clinician, trainer, and competitor Stephanie Hayes shares her story below of why she now chooses Redmond to provide her horses salt and necessary trace minerals.

natural horse salt lick rock"I never liked the fact that my horses had to lick processed salt blocks for so long in order to get the quantity of minerals they needed. I felt like I was settling for less by giving them processed salt products.

I wanted my horses to have a healthy, free-choice product. I wanted a salt lick that met their mineral needs and didn't have additional ingredients added.

Then I found Redmond Rock. I was so happy when I read the ingredients! Redmond Rock is 100% natural and just what I was looking forand also comes in Crushed loose salt varieties I love.

I never worry now about what sort of salt supplement my horses are eating. I know their mineral needs are being met, and I feel good about what they're getting."

— Stephanie Hayes

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Best Free Choice Salt for Horses + Loose Mineral Salt

A natural mineral rock like Redmond Rock is the best free-choice salt lick owners can provide horses. However, salt and mineral blockseven superior mineral rocksoften aren't enough to support all  the salt and mineral needs of horses. Here's why.

The National Research Council says an average 1,100-lb horse at rest needs 25 grams of salt per day as a maintenance dose. That's a minimum of 1.5 tablespoons or .75 ounces of loose salt. In equine athletes that are exercising heavily, like endurance horses, the salt requirement increases substantially—potentially climbing to a whopping 200 grams. You can see why hard-working horses may struggle to get enough salt from using a lick alone.

That's why experts from the University of Florida and Dr. Juliet Getty recommend feeding horses a loose salt daily, with a free-choice rock also available to meet extra demands. Redmond has a full line-up of loose salt to meet your horse's requirements year-round. Try original Redmond Rock Crushed, Crushed with Garlic for natural fly control, and Daily Red fortified mineral and vitamin mix.

Purchase a Redmond Salt Sample Pack

Thinking of switching your horse block to a natural Redmond Rock and Crushed loose salt? We've made it easy. Just click below to purchase a Redmond sample pack and try both! Use the code "hydrate" at checkout to get 50% off. If you and your horse don't love our products, we'll refund your money, guaranteed.

Cut through the confusion of horse blocks. Give your horse Redmond Rockthe finest-source for natural salt licks and loose minerals to promote better health and hydration.

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